Sunday, January 27, 2008

FSSMTW 8: USAGI YOJIMBO #109



USAGI YOJIMBO #109

This is going to sound awful, but I've never read a Usagi Yojimbo comic before. Not a single one in 24 years. To make matters worse, this appears to have been the last issue in the latest story.

I think the funny animal aspect was always a deterent. As was the samuri subject matter (samuri are like kryptonite to me). But the biggest problem has always been the question of where to start. The book is in its third volume, the character is on its fourth publisher, the collections remain split between two...

Clearly, though, the answer was to just pick up an issue and try it out. The whole thing is good fun, even if I'm confused about one character with three names (or is it two characters, one with two names?) but this is issue 109 of the third vollume. That there was only one element that confused me is pretty remarkable.

Sakai is pretty well known for his clear storytelling and his expressive figures, but I was surprised at how well he manages to make (what I assume is) his rapidiograph line look so lively. It's not that it jumps and skips about really loosely, but that there's a confident speed in all of his many curves (most of the shapes in Sakai's drawings are organic).

I also rather enjoyed the controlled chaos of his fight scenes. At a quick glance, those pages look like a mess. But in reading the panels, you can make out every form, every distinct character. And this is in one-third panels with seven or so characters fighting with swords.

It's pretty enjoyable stuff. Exactly the sort of thing I want from a comic book. I look forward to buying issue #110 and actually following a story from start to finish.

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